But the staff/system thing…is a whole other entry, right? That’s what i said.
Well, “C” was about finding art bandits doing their thing in the locale area, plus cultural buzz, eco-clear headed buzz, etc. And E was about making the “work” part work..which, stateside should have been as easy as pie, right?
I am NOT going to trash the whole system. There are people who truly do have a heart to help. Many whose hearts to do so have grown cold after it seeming so futile over the years.
What i will say…is that before you ever look down on a homeless person as being “perfectly able,but sitting there doing nothing”…not even just “You don’t know their story.”This is deeper than that…and it weaves into both C & E for AOLAB.
This is being said by someone every one of yall Knows…works her ass off every chance she gets. I go there. I don’t even feel flowing correctly unless there are a couple of things workwise moving forward.
If San Antonio is indicative of the true issue in the system…then Houston, we Have a fn problem that No One has broached in ALL the years of debating this whole welfare state handout mentality.
…Its not they dont want to help themselves.They’re backlashed against. In ways that you possibly cannot even imagine. They dont lose hope. Their hope is bashed out of them by red-tape and such dehumanizing dances they are forced into, to break them, that block them From getting a job & getting “help” at the same time that it is No fn Wonder so many are heartbroken into immobility.
And even in the situations where many of the higher up truly do have hearts of compassion and a true caring spirit for those they truly believe they are serving… The “Gatekeepers” that many believe they must interract with in lieu of taking things “higher”…were some of the most vindictive, malignant, debasing people i have had the displeasure of having to interract with in a very long time. Soul-feasters who smacked down anyone they thought was getting too openly doing for themselves on their watch. Not all. But of the 12 under the person running the gauntlet i had the necessity of interacting with and watching as they moved onto other targets, not comprehending Why their rolls didnt work with me…2. treated the women with respect. The others? It was more than “Not good.”
I Understood WHY some of these women struggled with giving up every morning due to what they were greeted with from those poised to help them or not. Big things and Little things. They’d look down on the women like they were animals…but then when it was time to do chores[very oldschool hostel style:/], i actually had to demand actual cleansers to do an effective job with. for 20 minutes. They would allow in a woman in who clearly needed to bathe…then for two days refused to give her towels they had to do so, or toiletries. So the women piled up toiletries on her bed so she could.
A chick got hit by a fucking Car…and then dismissed by the EMTs when they found out where she lived[& no insurance]…walked in the door, face bruised, cuts full of asphalt…& they refused to let her shower. She broke her glasses, is all but blind, but the experience so shut her down that she was too ashamed to go to the emergency even though we were all worried she was bleeding internally. The damage had already been done. Friday when she woke up, she couldnt move.
The absence of dignity and humanity was on the staff side, not those stuck in the “hostel.”
and outside of its grounds, systemwise, it only got worse. I’d been “requested” to do it “their way” on the 9th. by the guy i’d gotten assigned to on Good friday due to going around the building trying to find out why this weird intake thing was being refused. “Let the system work.Isnt there anything you’ve been putting off you can handle here? Doctors? Vision?” i went…”fine.” & just felt called to pay attention.I went for a TB test & then went through the process they make folks go through to get “referrals” that turn out to be useless where they send you, sending you back to where you started to get the letter they could’ve given you in the first place. By the afternoon, i was so disgusted by what i saw these people do in the name of “Help-” That a guardian angel with me was just like “Calm down.”
But in the process of trying to find a better answer for one of the dehumanzing things they set the women out on…they sent them to this place for help…on a path i wouldnt wish on an enemy…into higway traffic, under a bridge in a glass strewn area, no sidewalks, dodge more highway traffic- a place that made them have to return again & again to receive any assistance, very “maybe tomorrow” after having them waste their days there, instead of working. It wasnt impossble to have a sane walk to the place. it was just 10 minute more to not walk through where some people purportedly slept. These women could get attacked easily on their so-called path…but the answer to”do you have a map so i can plot a better course?” was looked at likei was speaking Japanese &in turn ignored. So i decided to find my way back myself. which led to…in trying to find a sane way…my stumbling across…a place called ARTPACE.
Dingdingding! That’s right! C!
Turns out they are quarterly residencies in this really cool space- they built out this building to have a couple of galleries and bring in one international, local, and national artist every three months, plus have all kinds of events for the local art scene- there IS an art scene! southside is where most of the galleries are… And i got invited to an event on Friday…but i’m getting ahead of myself in the story.
Back to the whole “you arent allowed to help yourself without there being grave consequences. Anyone remember Ellsworth Toothey from Ayn Rand’s book? His minions, full-on & true. Altruism, my ass. it was a cannibalistic feast up in there. & if you didnt jump through their hoops, it was a problem.
…so i was officially…a problem. I’d been told there were temp job places where i could make my fare forward as a daylaborer.The head person sent me to get the list Tuesday afternoon. The chick refused to give it. By Wednesday afternoon,hands slapped whenever i went for my own[ to which folks got slapped back], i’d been pulled in to that guy’s office…& after he got all defensive about the stuff he looked away from, he finally admitted he’d been horrified hearing how his coworkers treated the ladies, then told me that i had to speak to the head person if i really wanted ish to change. Because she always said if she didnt know, how could she change anything?
So i did. Told her about what they’d tried with me, how the info she’d told me to get had been refused, how they wouldnt let the accident victim shower. Told her who the real animals were. Thursday…the staff ran around like little evil chicks, whispering hatefully…because she chewed their asses out in writing. I became the “one who talked.” But they gave me berth. it wasnt even for me. It was for the ones who, in one interaction with these bitches could be demoralized for a month and they knew it
I texted the guy I’d done the murals for at Indiahouse and asked to come back. He went “Fucking Perfect!” I told them i’d lined up stuff in NOLA. But it was-They wanted me to wait on the ‘system” to help me.Because They were the face of the system. Case worker was talking about 3 wks to a month & maybe you’ll stay…I didnt want you to get overwhelmed…but he was talking about by not being Able to do anything, not by my doing too much, and then some of the women were like “stay with us~”lolol…I was like…love, comfort amongst due to silliness…but I am getting the HELL out of San Antonio.
By Thursday morning, fed up with all this stupid running around- i’d rode with 2 ladies to another place i was supposed to wait for the worker to “contact on my behalf”- i’d walked an hour to another one i was to wait for him to contact the day before and refused-& told oh well, no…& when i was like..”Ok. fine. you have to have a temp job provider list here.can i have it so i can get out of here?”
She paused…and finally gave it to me.Then there was all this disarray who, what, where the spots were- the crescendo of mess over how are you going to get to the places, huh? it was just demonic and i’d had enough.
I just got fed up. Asked T to stop the car around the block from the place.
Walked into a Vegetarian restaurant full of tatted and pierced Vegan hippie artguys and gals. Asked for a mgr. went “Look, I’m stranded here and trying to get to a job & bed in New Orleans.Can you hire me for a few hours to make the cash for the ticket?”
Hired on the spot.
Went over & told the case worker in the office with one of the staff. Utter shock. then his recovery.”See~ i told you…be patient~!”
I went”actually, it was the exact opposite of being patient, but thanks.lol”
The staffer? her jaw was still dropped when i walked away. I told some of the ladies…first there was shock at it having been right there around the corner for the asking.Then they all wanted to come too. Will any go over after i left? I hope so.
onto E! lol
My Job for the afternoon? a little gardening…which had me turning artichoke & celery plants into ikebana projects in their mini-farm in front of the place..and then…harvesting Kale. two bags full. Then cleaning it. Thank GOD…i didnt find out that aphids were plant lice until the next afternoon or i would’ve passed out lol. Then i had to go back. But i was happily halfway there. Plus i was given amazing, fresh Vegan food on top of pay that my body just absorbed lol.The next morning i went back & basically was their spring cleaner. & since that’s my zen thing…it was the perfect dialing out of the whole thing. even trimmed down a tree.
Had to check back in at lunch. They wanted me to go get some paperwork. I said “i’d rather work to get my ticket if they’ll let me. do i need it to stay another night if necessary?’ the staffer tried to hem in but the worker overheard and sadly said “no, you can still stay, but you really dont want to stay over the weekend?” & i calmly said no. Knowing he really didnt understand. It was the same question the women asked, and i answered the same way.
I went back and re-organized their dry storage, ate, went back to the place & ran into the worker. told him. he was like “…:(ok.” I went in.door was locked. I was like “i need to get my stuff, i’m leaving.”
a staffer actually went”No! I dont care. You cant get it now! you have to wait until 6pm!” Sparks shot from my eyes, but before i could reach through to take her by her giblet, her co-worker yelled at her”Go unlock the door!You better not make her miss her bus!”
It was a shock. to me AND the one trying to block me in. she actually said “you mean i really have to let her in?!” Shocked and appalled. Then just steaming as she did it.
I wrote a thank yall so much letter to the ladies, got my ish and flew out to the parking lot. with just enough for the ticket & change. One of the 2 i mentioned earlier that was happy over the job thing? she gave me a lift to the station…and just waited to get out of dodge.
But THAT is not the end.Not exactly.
I get on the bus and a woman started going on and on happily about Fiesta…which…is a two week event in April that all of San Antonio turns into a huge street fest. Sounds like a Carnivale-type vibe, all kinds of parades, marching bands, always a week or so after Easter. She also…very proud of her city..explained that it was a small town, primarily for retirees to flourish in…and for training the armed forces. Btw…If you KNEW how Many recent Veterans…are in the system After Iraq and Afghanistan…having to fight through red tape all the same but even moreso as women…it’d break your heart or piss you off.
But back to the thing at hand. the Fiesta, with Greens, the Vegan spot where i did the work for the ticket and ArtPace…are my offerings to cover “C” for San Antonio’s AOLAB. There is a hostel. But not really. It is a bed& breakfast, in a supposedly very dodgy neighborhood that guests have rated accordingly.
As for Volunteer opportunities…you can “Give” supplies for women and children- Towels, toiletries, food, books, laundry stuff, whatever-at the Salvation Army..but address them to the director with explicit instructions that it go directly To the women in the emergency shelter.ANd that you want to see it doled out to ensure it gets to them. That admonition has nothing to do with the Officers of the Salvation Army.
The actual Officers…were those good-hearted ones i spoke about in the beginning of this. They were the ones who, when they saw something askew, actually tried to do stuff about it. It’s that who they pass the ball to on the ground absolutely sucked… the life out out anyone they could get their claws into.
But How…HOW DOES THIS COME TOGETHER TO MAKE SAN ANTONIO A GOOD EXPERIENCE FOR YOU OUTSIDE OF HITTING YOUR AOLAB MARKS? right?
A lot of stuff i didnt even know i had been asking got answered in San Antonio in affirmative ways. We’ll see how those answers play out over these next few weeks in NOLA.
As of right now, I’m signed on til June. The wall for the new mural has already been assigned and the imagery started flooding through immediately.
Is Indiahouse the same? Yes and no…but in a beautiful, beautiful way. But maybe that applies to me too.
Yall who’ve been with this for a while remember that at the start of 2010, i’d wanted to buy a house here. In Hindsight, i can see the stuff that needed to be effectively handled before that would’ve been anything BUT a catastrophe, no matter my good intentions. In the past 2 years, a lot of those answers have come. In San Antonio a root motif was finally revealed for what it is, and i pray to god …removed once and for all.
What it comes down to is…did it all come together for the good?
Yes. & Those women loved on me so hard just for being open to being there, in the head of “Dude, shit happens, i’m here, but here doesnt define me, and Yall are fn amazing”…I dont want to compare…let each place be its place…but the people i met in San Antonio in that “nominal” place were better than…many met on this long and winding road.& they deserve credit for that too. But telling you…sections of my heart that had all but shut down had been restored.
oh. Another side note, kinda. Speaking to that whole thing broached about the Family ish and HOW much God has changed not only me, but them too. I didnt reach out to my family until thursday, & it was in frustration after the chick pausing as she pondered giving me the list before she did.I was surrounded by folks who were “used to it..” & i got so irked that…I started texting my momma.
Lol. going the f off about how i see why people Dont ask for help, seeing firsthand what is done to them. Mad. MAD. Then we were headed back and The whole thing with the restaurant job on spot thing went down.
It was when i came Back… from that afternoon of ikebana /Kale cleaning…that i found out my Mother…the same one who’d been the featured actress in that first throwdown in 1998…had texted me after my blasts…
“How do i send a will-call ticket?”
And i…got to write back to her”For the first time in my life…i get to say”Nevermind~:”/ because mah hippie folk hired me on the spot blahblahblah.”
THAT…was God closing the circle and shutting down the demon who’d been laughing at the root of that Whole thing 13 years ago. the schism closed. I am grateful for the entire experience. Nuts and bolts.It was Hardcore. but even with all i said, i had a bed where i’d otherwise Not had one. And a shower. and food. I just dont think that being grateful for that means that you must pay with your soul being cannibalized, and i wish to God it HAD been a different kind of witnessing in counterpoint to the good. But i’m also glad he & they Let me get a better picture of it than i had coming in.
And those women? Blew up my phone with texts of Love & be blessed once they found out i had flown the coop.
As for the final tenet of AOLAB…the “And Show what comes out of you, artistically,” SO far… THAT..is this. I can write about all of it for what it was.Because the truth of it is this: In that shelter…were people with full-time jobs too. Whole families, working…in our day and age…who lost jobs.and then homes. It was no less “you” than the you that you see in the mirror everyday as you set out in your day. You never know .
Just be grateful.
I gave the head guy here the biggest Bearhug when i got here today. 12 hour bus ride. took an hour nap today. Have spent the rest of it writing, Stunned at this crazy journey that “F it, i’m going to Mexico” turned out to be. Grateful for every iota of it. It’s been an intense Art of Life segmentthat i dont have to be honest about, but i feel like it will do morefor folks to know the “shit happens” aspect of hitting the road just as much as encouraging you towards the great…but its been a good one.
And so Hecho en mexico and all aspects connected to it…come to their close.